I have hardly had a decent night's rest in the last four or five years. Part because I snore and have sleep apnea and part because I just have trouble laying down and dozing off.
Unlike a few years ago, however, it's not insomnia. It's no longer that I lay in bed awake for three or four hours before getting tired and slowly drifting off to sleep. I have since upgraded to the most comfortable bed I have ever laid on and once my head hits the pillow, I'm immediately off to a dream-filled wonderland.
The problem I have now is, essentially, that there are simply not enough hours in a day. I cannot get everything I need to get completed in a single day and I hate pushing things back.
I wake up in the morning, grab a bite to eat while I check my emails and start writing. Depending on the day I may have a meeting before or after lunch, then it's time for another article. Then another. On a good day, I finish my last article by 6:00 PM. On a long day, where the planets align and productivity is mixed between countless interruptions and my own attention deficit, what would have been a normal day of work turns into a single day with work spread out over 16 hours or more.
All of that is fine. There are good days and bad days, just as there are with any sort of business. And with content creation, delays and long days come with the territory. You get used to it after a while.
The problem is squeezing in everything else I need to do at the end of the day: laundry, washing dishes, cooking and/or eating dinner, playing with my clinically insane dogs without waking the neighbor downstairs and completing my wind-down process, which usually consists of a few rounds of Black Ops II or a TV show on Netflix. (At some point, I'm going to have to fit exercise in to that program. (Home boy is getting a little pudgy around the midsection and all the home cooking this holiday season didn't help.)
Sometimes, even when I scrap half of those things I need to do and push them back to the next day, it's usually 1:00 AM or later before I finally lay down. Without a doubt, 2:00 AM is the new midnight.
The issue I've had over the last week or so is a major change in the notifications I receive, both the amount and priority level. Some are very important and deal with the site and my stepping up at the beginning of the year (which is coming up quickly). I'm receiving tons of Twitter mentions after taking over Aaron's old account, and I do my best to respond to each one. And CES is right around the corner. Every minute or so throughout the day, I receive a handful of emails from PR companies asking me to stop by their booth at the show for a guided tour, or to schedule time for an interview.
Laying down at night is no longer to simply doze off. It's time to catch up on all the things I missed on Twitter, email and everything else. And if you start replying to things at midnight or 1:00 AM, chances are you'll get even more responses. I'll respond to a dozen tweets or something on Facebook, hit the power button on my phone and flick the light off.
I turn the light back on, check what it was and turn the phone and lamp back off at least a half dozen times every night. Maybe more.
I used to limit my smartphone usage in bed, and I still try to. I'm always conscious of how much I use it after the lights go out and eventually ignore the incoming notifications.
But a few weeks ago, I actually decided to put two features on my smartphones to use, Blocking Mode on the Galaxy Note II and Do Not Disturb on the iPhone 5. In essence, they're the same exact features. Switch them on and set a time frame where any and all notifications (except those you allow from set contacts) are silenced. On the iPhone, the display quits lighting up, it stops vibrating and goes "dark". And the Note II does very much the same thing; you can even disable the LED notification light.
For the last few days, I have been able to successfully ignore all notifications after midnight. Instead of finally falling asleep at 3:00 AM (with the exception of last night, which was inevitably going to be a "late one"), I'm been drifting off at 12:00 or 1:00 AM. It's progress – I'm working my way towards 11:00 PM. Theoretically, all I have to do is inch the scheduled "dark" hours for Blocking Mode and Do Not Disturb closer and closer to 11:00 PM and, eventually, earlier.
I know some of you must be thinking, "Taylor, why don't you just switch your phone to silent when you lay down in bed?"
I have, many times. It doesn't always help; it's usually after I've already succumbed to checking my phone three or four times over the course of an hour. When silencing my phone, I'm still conscious of notifications that will be coming in. Using these modes, my phones are silenced automatically. All I do is enable them and forget about them. And that's key. Forgetting that Blocking Mode and Do Not Disturb are enabled means I'm unaware that my phones are still getting notifications. I fall asleep with my mind at ease, not when I'm too tired to hold my phone up any longer.
Have either of these modes on your smartphone helped you get to bed earlier? Or, likewise, fall asleep earlier? Or do you lay in bed every night checking every notification and wake up with your phone resting on your nose?